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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Monday, May 21, 2012
NGS Photo Spotlight
Posted by Maureen

The owner of last week's photo, Larae Schraeder, sent me some additional information on her family. I love the connection between family history and photography! That's no surprise to all the readers of this space.


Last week, I showed details giving evidence that this picture was taken by an itinerant photographer. One correction to that post. The photo was found in Schraeder's great-grandparents' collection of images. It depicts Caleb and Eliza C. (Jeffers) Coon/Kuhn.  

If you're wondering about the alternate spelling of the Coon/Kuhn name, Caleb's Civil War pension file contains information on his formal name change.

What's the most unusual detail you've found in a Civil War pension file?  Add it to the Comments section below. I discovered that my great-grandfather had red hair. No one in the family since has had red hair.


Caleb was born in Washington County, Ohio, in 1846. He died in 1927 in Vernon, Mo. His wife, Eliza, was born in Gallia County, Ohio, in 1847, and she died in Vernon in 1929.  

Caleb's family moved to Gallia County and their farm adjoined Eliza's family farm. Caleb didn't farm; he worked in coal mining.

Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • 1890s photos | Civil War | group photos
    Monday, May 21, 2012 1:52:46 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]
    Wednesday, May 23, 2012 5:36:46 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    A distant relative was injured in the battle of Chickamauga. That's all we knew.

    The Civil War pension files gave us an enormous amount of information and an amazing story!

    On the first day of fighting, a cannonball burst threw him into a fence injuring his left foot and leaving a deep wound in his back. For the rest of his life, he was only able to sleep by sitting in a rocking chair.

    By 1895 he was unable to work, and the eight dollars per month he received as pension just wasn't enough. He filed a "Declaration For The Increase Of An Invalid Pension" hoping to receive a rate of $50 per month. A Medical Referee was called in to examine him, but did not feel his injuries were a direct result of his injury in battle. His claim for increase in pension was rejected.

    He kept fighting for an increase until his death in 1917. The day after his death his pension check arrives, but does not have the proper signatures. His widow sends it back to Washington D.C. and becomes entangled in a bureaucratic nightmare. They want to know if she was legally married to him, what her legal name is, have her file for a Widow’s pension and unbelievably, furnish proof that he is dead.

    She writes several letters. "I was sick in bed. 80 years old. I am very weak. Can't walk out doors yet. Have no home. Only this. We rented. Why was not the pension check sent back? Can they cheat me out of it?"

    It doesn't end there. A shady pension attorney, the Daughters of Veterans and the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), the local representative for the House of Representatives and the Chief of the Western Division, Bureau of Pensions all got involved.
    Mark Erickson
    Comments are closed.